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[liberationtech] Can HAM radio be used for communication between health workers in rural areas with no cell connectivity?

Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb ei8fdb at
Thu Mar 7 11:18:29 PST 2013

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Hi Eugen,

On 7 Mar 2013, at 08:02, Eugen Leitl wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 06, 2013 at 09:36:41PM +0000, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb wrote:
>> I have one answer: Amateur radio. Forget mobile phone networks.  Amateur radio is cheap, very durable and will provide you with the functions you need, and if you can get access to amateur radio operators in your country, you may have free support for the life of your project!
> Hams need to be registered

Correct. One barrier to entry. But if the help workers are certified this is a non-issue.

> , may only communicate with other hams

"By the law" true, but in circumstance where is makes sense they can (and often do) communicate with other parties. I have in the past communicated with coastguard stations (very briefly) and mountain rescue teams (see below). 

> (i.e. may not give access to third parties, and especially
> pass traffic of third parites) and

Not fully true. 

I have been involved in a number of activations when living in Ireland where an amateur radio was used to pass safety messages for mountain rescue teams that were providing safety cover for cross mountain outdoor challenges. In this case we communicated with 2 groups which provided a national service for safety in mountainous areas.

Messages can and regularly passed for 3rd parties as long as they are not of commercial nature. Amateur radio operators in Ireland (and I am sure other countries

I would point to this audio interview outlining the work amateur radio ops did during the September 11 attacks in New York

I would also point to this audio recording of amateur radio operators passing 3rd party messages during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

And I would not say this is specific to Ireland/Europe. Amateur radio is licensed and administered by the ITU. I'm not saying their control is all correct, but there is a framework, legislation and policy.

> may not pass encrypted traffic.

Again yes by law. And I would agree with that.

> You might get away with end to end encryption at application layer, 
> but this would be only tolerated at best. 

> The whole ham culture and liberation technologies do not really
> mix.

Again, like I said in my previous mail, I don't fully understand what you mean by that.

My point is not that amateur radio is the answer to everything, it was merely that if there is a decision of mobile phone networks doing something that will not directly make them profits, that it is a good alternative to investigate.


- --------------------------------------
Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb

IO91XM /

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